Mushroom of the Underworld

Actually, Thompson was only partly right when he said that the Spaniards were silent on the matter of hallucinogens among the Maya, for several of the early dictionaries compiled by Spanish priests in the Guatemalan highlands demonstrate considerable Indian knowledge of the intoxicating effects of a number of mushroom species.* One of the oldest of the Colonial word lists, the Vico dictionary, which was apparently compiled well before the 1550's, explicitly mentions a mushroom called xibalbaj...

Mushroom Stones and the Cult of Sacred Mushrooms

Mention in several of the early sources on Guatemalan Maya languages of a mushroom specifically named for the underworld i.e. the realm of the dead is especially interesting in light of the discovery of a ceremonial cache of nine beautifully sculptured miniature mushroom stones and nine miniature metates grinding stones , dating back some 2,200 years, in a richly furnished tomb at Kaminaljuyu, a late Preclassic and Early Classic archaeological site near Guatemala City. The coincidence of the...

The Virola Tree as a Source of Snuff

Psychotria Viridis

But even this corrected classification did not clear up all the confusion, because snuffs were attributed by many writers to Anadenanthera, whether or not that genus actually occurred locally, and even though the observed method of preparation suggested that several different and even unrelated species might be involved. The mystery was cleared up when several species of Virola, a tree belonging not, like Anadenanthera, to the Leguminoseae pea family but, like nutmeg, to the Myristicaceae, were...

LSD and Parkinsons Disease

In a very real sense the circle is also closing with respect to Hofmann's hope, expressed at the time of his epoch-making discovery of LSD, that because of its ability to mimic certain mental illnesses the drug might prove useful in their treatment. In fact, LSD has been employed to that end over the years by some psychiatrists, often with beneficial results. However, the potency of LSD and the severe legal limitations imposed in recent years on its use even under controlled scientific...